The Picture Superiority Effect

May 16, 2022

The Picture Superiority Effect

The Picture Superiority Effect

The importance of image-based safety training is something I have talked about often as a way to help trainees who do not have English as a first language or anyone with low literacy skills to be better able to understand important safety information. Images are also important in efforts to increase retention. The Picture Superiority Effect says that people remember pictures better than words, especially over long periods of time. Research has suggested that when we read text alone, we are likely to remember only 10 percent of the information 3 days later. Alternatively, if the same text is shown along with a relevant image, 65% of the information will be remembered three days later. For example, if you stopped reading here and didn’t look at the image below, you would remember very little of what I have written here about the Picture Superiority Effect.

It’s important to pay attention to the word relevant. Any old image along with text will not work to increase retention. Consider the following examples:

The illustrations on the left include a relevant image that matches the text and the examples on the right include loosely related images for the text shown.

The Picture Superiority Effect infographic above illustrates the amount remembered when a relevant image is included compared to when it is not. Hopefully, this helps you to recall the meaning of The Picture Superiority Effect, and will serve as a reminder to incorporate relevant images into your safety training materials.

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